As schools and universities continue to teach remotely, teachers and professors struggle to adapt their in-person curricula to remote learning platforms. Many courses have become dominated by passive learning activities that bore students. The influx of virtual learning that got students and teachers through the early days of the pandemic are simply not viable long-term solutions for students who easily tune out and disengage.
So, what's the answer? We know educators and administrators have been thinking about this question, and so have we. The best part: this approach is useful for people both in school and in the professional workforce. Let's talk a little more about collaborative learning.
Collaborative learning is the educational approach of using groups to enhance learning by asking them to work together on projects. Groups of two or more work together to solve problems, complete tasks, or learn new concepts. This approach actively engages learners to truly process information rather than using rote memorization of facts and figures. Learners work with each other on projects, so they must collaborate as a group to understand the concepts being presented to them.
There is some confusion as it concerns collaborative learning and cooperative learning. In cooperative learning, tasks are divvyed up among the participants. They then use their knowledge to help all team members understand the concepts. In collaborative learning, individual participants must also take responsibility for their team learning and success, but the roles, resource-allocation, and organization of the team is left to the team itself. Ideally, there would be no overseeing director, so the group must self-direct. This lack of direct oversight is not dissimilar to the concept of decentralization, which is at the heart of smart contracts and blockchain. By passing the learning over to students, collaborative learning gives them the chance to take ownership and responsibility for their own learning. Here are 5 more benefits to individuals in the collaborative learning process:
- Learning becomes a truly active process.
- Promotes learning from other viewpoints.
- Teaches critical thinking and faster learning.
- Promotes listening to criticism and advice.
- Develops public speaking and active listening skills.
As students continue to learn remotely, the collaborative learning approach is much more engaging!
Additionally, the principles of collaborative are not exclusive to a classroom setting: they are applicable to the workplace, too. Here are 5 ways collaborative learning benefits organizations:
- Self-management and leadership skills are developed.
- Employee skills and knowledge are increased.
- Relationships across teams and departments are improved.
- Knowledge acquisition and retention are improved.
- Employee retention and workplace engagement are improved.
There are a few different theories as it concerns collaborative learning. As a whole, collaborative learning is built upon the belief that learning is a naturally social act, and that learning occurs through talking through problems and seeking understanding. Early theories of collaborative learning focused on how children learn, but as more studies have been conducted, there has been more focus on how adults continue to cognitively develop and how collaborative learning can help develop that learning.